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Whitman-Walker Health, the District’s federally qualified health center that specializes in LGBTQ-competent and HIV-related care, broke ground on a new health center, located on the grounds of St. Elizabeths Campus in Southeast D.C., that is set to be completed in 2023.
On Thursday morning, representatives from Whitman-Walker, along with Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Councilmember Trayon White (D-Ward 8), and members the project development team, comprised of Redbrick LMD and Gragg Cardona Partners, were on hand to mark the start of construction on the new facility, which will be Whitman-Walker’s largest health facility to date.
Once completed, the 118,000-square foot facility will be allow Whitman-Walker to see up to 15,000 patients annually, a significant increase from the 5,000 per year seen at the Max Robinson Center, Whitman-Walker’s current facility serving communities east of the Anacostia River, which first opened at 2301 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. SE in 1992.
The new health facility will provide primary care, behavioral, dental, and substance misuse treatment services, expanding on the care currently provided at the Max Robinson Center. The site will also be the headquarters to the Whitman-Walker Institute, the organization’s research, policy, and advocacy arm, with the expansion allowing Whitman-Walker to diversify and expand its medical research portfolio.
The development will also include a ground-floor pharmacy, will house increased health care services for young people, and will supply administrative office space for over 100 Whitman-Walker staffers.
“This new health care home will reflect the vibrancy of the community and will give us an opportunity to expand care in ways we have been dreaming of for decades,” Naseema Shafi, CEO of Whitman-Walker Health, said in a statement.
“This project is the single biggest expression of Whitman-Walker’s commitment to racial and health equity for all Washingtonians,” added Don Blanchon, CEO of the Whitman-Walker Health System. “We celebrate today’s groundbreaking with excitement and humility knowing that there is much more to do to realize these ideals in community.”
Whitman-Walker is the latest groundbreaking at the St. Elizabeths Campus, which is already home to the Entertainment & Sports arena and the future site of mixed-income for-sale and renal housing, a full-service hospital, new office and retail spaces, and amenities, including a new library.
“We are proud to be bringing the vision of the Ward 8 community to life,” Bowser said in a statement touting the groundbreaking, one of two held on Thursday in Southeast D.C. “In 2015, when we announced our plans to bring the Entertainment & Sports Arena to Congress Heights, we came together set a bigger, bolder vision for Ward 8 — one that would bring jobs, opportunity, housing, and prosperity to the community. With today’s groundbreakings, we are one step closer to delivering the amenities and opportunity that Ward 8 deserves.”
“Our residents have long awaited the same access to amenities as the rest of the city,” Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White said in a statement. “We are seeing a beacon of light and hope here today. For me, it’s really about equity and access and there is no time like the present.”
For more information on Whitman-Walker Health, visit www.whitman-walker.org. For more information on the health center’s move to St. Elizabeths Campus East, visit www.whitmanwalkerimpact.org/stelizabeths.
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